Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Happy birthday, Joan Collins

Today is the 57th anniversary of Joan Collins' 21st birthday. Happy birthday Joan!

While not a belly dancer, like many of us Joan certainly likes a bit of animal print and lippy (see Exhibit A, above). And she has certainly rocked a good harem dancer's costume in her time.

In 1955, 22 year-old Joan starred in Land of the Pharaohs as greedy Princess Nellifer. The whole back story involves a highly fictionalised account of the construction of the Great Pyramid of Cheops. Nellifer sets out to become the second wife of King Khufu (Cheops), who is known to be amassing a vast fortune in the bowels of the funeral pyramid he's having built for himself. Once married, Nellifer sets out to kill Khufu's first wife, Queen Nailla, and his son and heir.

Along the way, Nellifer is caught cheating on Khufu with his captain of the guard. As punishment, she is whipped:

For some reason, this scene has been looped and put on YouTube. Never mind the flagellation -- that bra looks like punishment enough, don't you think?

With a special treat in the form of subtitles for our Portugese-speaking readers, here's Joan's final scene (so, yeah...spoiler alert!), in which it finally dawns on the hapless Nellifer that the pyramid's architect has tricked her into paying for her misdeeds in the most fitting way possible. It's a technical marvel, but alas there is no dancing.

Land of the Pharaohs is available on DVD as part of the Cult Camp Classics(!): Vol 4 Historical Epics series.

Don't worry, I'm not a total tease! Here's the dance scene, and it's not what we're used to. Still wildly historically/culturally off though.

As an aside, even though this was a Howard Hawks production (he who was to blame for The Conqueror) and made during a time when no one thought twice about "blacking up" Caucasian actors (check out Joan's mahogany hue!), Queen Nailla is actually played by a north African. Unfortunately, Algerian actress Kerima is all-but forgotten now (her last-ever screen credit is from around 1972), but her debut Outcast of the Islands -- in which she plays Aissa, the mute female lead -- has recently been re-released on DVD and she's terrific in it. There'll be a picture-special post on Kerima in the next few days. 

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